It was a busy birthday weekend for Jason Kidd.
No. 2 turned 39 on Friday and the Mavs rewarded him with a tough Texas back-to-back against the Spurs and Rockets.
But the Mavs came out of the weekend no worse for wear after a loss to San Antonio and a victory over Houston.
In the second-half of the weekend’s back-to-back series, J-Kidd and the Mavericks needed an extra five minutes, but they earned themselves what Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle deemed the team’s "biggest win of the year."
With nine points on 3-for-6 shooting from the floor, four assists and two rebounds, J-Kidd’s stat line didn’t quite reflect his presence on the court as the Mavs’ primary playmaker in Saturday night’s contest.
Jason was active from the get-go, notching three of his nine points, a block and one of his two rebounds in the opening minutes of the first quarter. The Mavs trailed the Rockets, 30-26, to open up the second quarter and traded shot-for-shot until No. 2 sunk treys on back-to-back possessions to balloon the Dallas lead to 48-42 with 3:31 remaining before the half.
Two minutes later, No. 2 served up a brilliant pass to Shawn Marion who drained a jumper and gave the Mavs a six-point lead with about a minute remaining before the break. But a late flurry by the Rockets brought Houston within two, 56-54, at the half.
J-Kidd was right back at it after the break, dishing out two more assists to Dirk Nowitzki — first for a three and then for a two-point jumper — that held off another Houston run early in the third quarter.
After a break in the fourth quarter, the veteran was ready for the OT session. With the Mavs up 97-95 and under two minutes to play in the extra session, Jason used his signature pump-fake to open up the lane for an uncontested three, but the ball clanged off the iron.
Shortly thereafter the Rockets knotted the score at 97, but Jason Terry was able to sink a mid-range jumper to put the Mavs ahead for good, and they were able to steal a victory from the Rockets 101-99. After the game Nowitzki summed up his thoughts on the night’s win in a short and sweet few words.
"In this league, in this season, a win is a win," he said.
In a lock-out-shortened season, and with a dwindling number of games remaining, Saturday night’s win was monumental for the Mavs who are looking to secure a playoff spot in the congested Western Conference. The gravity of the win was not lost on Carlisle.
"It was the biggest win of the year for us. It really was," he said. "We were fighting back all night, until the end of regulation. They made a couple of plays, and we made a couple of plays. They guys kept hanging in, and that’s what it’s about."
The win came 24 hours after J-Kidd exploded for 14 points, seven rebounds, an assist and a steal against the Spurs on his 39th birthday.
No. 2 had a birthday to remember, knocking down four threes, but the Spurs spoiled his day (Getty Images)
Despite the offensive flurry from No. 2, and though the Spurs were without their star point man Tony Parker, there wasn’t much for Jason to celebrate as the Mavs were rolled by their in-state rival Spurs, 104-87.
San Antonio led for most of the first half, establishing a four-point edge in the opening minutes and building from there. They maintained the lead by crashing the glass, outrebounding Dallas almost 2-1 (27-14) in the first 24 minutes. Jason gave the Mavs three of those 14 boards along with an assist and a steal in the first half, but was kept off the scoreboard as the Spurs took a seven-point lead into the break.
But Jason and the Mavs got hot coming out of the break and made a run to the lead.
No. 2’s second half performance was a perfect foil to his relatively quiet beginning. He opened the half with a triple and drained three treys in the first eight minutes of the third quarter. The third of those triples gave Dallas a 63-58 lead with 4:17 remaining. Unfortunately, that marked the last of the Mavericks’ scoring in the third quarter and San Antonio went on to notch 12 unanswered points.
"We were up five and it was just an end-of-quarter wall. They made two threes at the end of the quarter and then they just kept going," Jason said. "That’s basketball, a game of runs, and we just have to limit it to not being 20-2."
Four minutes into the final session, J-Kidd drained a trey for his 12th point of the game, cutting the Spurs edge to 11. After a Matt Bonner trey pushed the Dallas deficit back to 14, No. 2 answered with a pull-up jump shot to cut the San Antonio’s lead to 83-71. But it wasn’t nearly enough, as the Spurs finished with their foot on the gas pedal, registering a blistering 34 points in the final quarter.
After the game, head coach Rick Carlisle addressed some of the team’s weaknesses — particularly rebounding — that played a part in Friday night’s loss.
"Our inability to secure rebounds early in the game kept us from climbing out of a hole in the first half," he said. "Clearly, that’s what got us the lead. (Jason) Kidd got hot and made some shots. We were doing some good things in the second half. Then the 22-2 run, that killed us."
J-Kidd and the Mavs will get another shot at the Rockets when they come to Dallas on Tuesday night. With the end of the regular season looming, the Mavericks are aware that this last stretch of games is crucial to extending their season.
"We’ve got a couple of days now to regroup," Carlisle said. "We’ve got these guys again and these are big games, because we’re close to these guys in the standings and everything is congested. One win or loss and you can move up or down three spots."
Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 PM CST on Fox Sports Southwest.
- Dallas Mavericks @ Houston Rockets Box Score (NBA.com, Mar. 24, 2012)
- Dallas Mavericks @ Houston Rockets Post Game 50 Quotes (Mavs Moneyball, Mar. 25, 2012)
- Spurs beat Mavericks without injured Parker (Las Cruces Sun, Mar. 23, 2012)
- Mavericks guard Kidd celebrates 39th birthday (Dallas / Fort Worth Star Telegram, Mar. 23, 2012)
- Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs Post Game 49 Quotes (Mavs Moneyball, Mar. 24, 2012)